Hello everyone. I am the "lad in Ohio" that Richard mentioned earlier. I asked his advice about some problems I've been having while hewing white pine logs. At the risk of being long winded (which Richard can tell you I am), I'd like to tell you a little about myself and what I've been doing.
I am 57 years old and have been hewing logs all summer for cabin building. I'm not building log homes, just smaller structures, cabins. I am hewing two faces, the inside and outside walls. That is the way logs were hewn here in Appalachia.
I have way too much time in each log, but at my age, and after having a heart attack four years ago, I learned a man really can work himself to death.
Each step in the process takes about two hours. Falling, limbing, topping, and piling brush-two hours. Barking the log, I use a D-handled scraper I bought and filed a good edge on-two hours.
Getting the log on a foot high trestle I built (I use a firewood lifter/timberjack to lift it), marking the timber on the cut ends, and snapping chalk lines from end to end-two hours. SAWING back to the chalk line (if I tried standing on one of these logs and axing down...well, let's just say that fresh peeled pine is the greasiest thing I ever seen). I was using a chain saw, but have switched to a one man crosscut for greater accuracy.
Anyway, sawing to the line, then using a miner's axe to rough out the log to within 1/4-3/4" of the line. That combined operation takes two hours too. Then I finish it out by hewing to the line with a Gransfors Bruks double bevel broad axe.
Two hours, hour a side. Like I said, way too much time in each log, but hey, I can't think of a better way to spend a 90 degree afternoon (maybe I better start wearing a hat).
My technique is different than Richard's, or anyone else I've seen online here, but it works for me. Like I said, the log is up on a foot high trestle I built. I am sitting a'straddle the log, when roughing out and when finishing.
I'm working on the right side of the log, roughing from butt to tip and finishing from tip to butt. My leg, the one you might be worried about, is cocked out 90 degrees to the side, or even a little backward at times. But I'm hewing straight down for the most part. I pull backward as I strike, making sort of a slicing motion with the axe. I rarely miss or deflect, but when I do, the axe just buries itself into the chips.
Oh, and I lead with my left hand. I'm right handed, right eye is my dominant eye too. But my left hand is closest to the axe head. Seems more natural that way. I can do it with my right hand forward, under the axe head, it just isn't as easy.
Now, my problem, the one I contacted Richard about, is that as I'm hewing and I get to the very bottom of the face, that last bit of sapwood wants to tear out. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with my straight down hewing technique. I've made adjustments, hewing back toward myself slightly as I get to the very bottom, but it still happens too much. Best way I can describe it is like a ring shake, it tears back behind the line.
I've tried hewing most of the way through, then rolling the log over and coming in from the other side. That works, but it leaves funny looking tool marks. They displease my eye. And it isn't a matter of scoring lightly to catch the split, it pops out way behind the line. Follows the sapwood ring. I could also ask how you'uns handle tear outs around limbs, it's particularly bad on the white pine whorls?
Doesn't seem to be any regularity to the grain at a whorl. Not that I can follow. But I've already pirated Richard's thread enough. I do want to say, I stand in awe of that man. I've read this thread, all 110 pages of it, twice. He's amazing. All you guys, I mean, I just flatten logs, cut notches, and stack em up. Any lad could do that. You guys are artisans. You really are.